Make Your Voice Heard: The Power of National Voter Registration Day

a person submitting their vote by mail

It’s National Voter Registration Day—an opportunity for our community to step forward, get informed, and ensure we're all set to vote. Voting is one of the most powerful tools we have to influence change, and if that weren’t true, people who don’t want to see that change wouldn’t be doing everything in their power to make it so hard to vote. It’s pretty logical to conclude that if someone is trying to make it harder for some people to vote than others, then they must be pretty afraid of what the power of the vote can do.

Even if it’s now harder to get registered to vote in your state, that’s all the more reason to do it.

What’s happening on September 19th?

On National Voter Registration Day, you’ll see a number of national non-partisan organizations mobilizing to encourage people 18 and over to register to vote or to update their registration if any of their information has changed. The NALEO Educational Fund is one of those organizations rallying the community and boosting voter registration. They're putting together a series of events across key cities with voter registration drives to guide potential voters through the registration process or assist in updating their details.

Why is it happening?

The essence of democracy thrives on participation. The National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO) Educational Fund recognizes the vital role that the Latino community plays in shaping the future of the U.S., and the push for National Voter Registration Day is rooted in the drive to ensure every voice is heard. Historically, certain communities, including Latinos, have always faced extra barriers to full civic participation.

By facilitating voter registration events, offering bilingual resources, and holding educational conferences, NALEO aims to bridge any gaps in knowledge or access. This initiative isn't just about numbers; it's about empowering individuals, celebrating our shared democratic values, and reinforcing the truth that every vote, every voice, has power and significance in the American political system.

I have questions about voting; where can I get answers?

NALEO has set up a ¡Ve y Vota! hotline. It's bilingual (yes, en español too) and will run from 8:00 a.m. ET to 8:00 p.m. ET on the day. Whether you're wondering how to register, where to vote, or even the requirements needed for voting, just dial 888-VE-Y-VOTA (888-839-8682), and they'll guide you.

Any events near me?

If you live in these major cities, yes. NALEO is hosting voter registration drives in Los Angeles, Houston, Charlotte, and New York City. So if you're in any of these cities, keep an eye out and get involved.

You can also find more information and other events at the official National Voter Registration Day website

Can I help or join?

There are always ways to help. NALEO is expanding its network and is on the lookout for community partners to help make voter registration smooth and accessible for everyone. If you're interested or know any organization that might be, it's a great time to team up. Your local registry or voting office always has information on how to volunteer as an individual.

Quick Deets:

  • Event: National Voter Registration Day (NVRD)
  • Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2023
  • Hotline: ¡Ve y Vota! - 888-839-8682
  • Voter Drives: Los Angeles, Houston, Charlotte, and New York City

Voting isn't just a right; it's a powerful tool that reflects our collective voice, our values, and our dreams for the future. Every time we cast our vote, we're not only shaping the direction of the nation but also honoring the sacrifices of our ancestors and ensuring a brighter path for the generations to come. It's more than just ticking a box; it's our way of saying, "Estamos aquí, and we matter." So whether you're a first-generation immigrant or have deep-rooted family ties here, participating in the voting process is a celebration of our identity, our stories, and our place in this country.

Uvalde mayoral candidate headshot, a campaign sign that says Vote Yes on Issue 1 and the outline of the state of virginia

U.S. general elections happen every single year in November. The reality of election turnout in the U.S. means that during non-presidential election years, many voters decide not to vote leaving the outcome of pivotal races to be decided by a small percentage of people.

This means that high-profile issues of consequence also don’t get the attention of the everyday person as much as they do when media coverage and ad spending as in a frenzy, resulting in elections making their way into everyday conversation.

Despite the lower profile nature of the 2023 non-presidential election, feminist issues made their way to ballots nationwide represented by candidates who made abortion, reproductive health, and gun safety central to their campaigns.

In South Texas, Gun Safety Doesn’t Rally the Vote

The most high profile of the gun advocates on the ballot was Kimberly Mata-Rubio, mother of slain elementary student Lexi Rubio who died during the 212th mass shooting of 2022 that left 19 kids and 2 teachers dead in Uvadle, Texas.

In Uvalde’s first mayoral race since the Robb Elementary School shooting, Mata-Rubio came up short, losing to the former Uvalde mayor, Cody Smith. More than a year after yet another young white male with an AR-style rifle changed the Uvalde community forever, Mata-Rubio campaigned on unifying the small town. Her candidacy made her one of Uvalde’s most outspoken voices advocating for stricter gun laws.

After poll results were released, Mata-Rubio said via X, “I’ll never stop fighting for you, Lexi. I meant it when I said this was only the beginning. After all, I’m not a regular mom. I’m Lexi’s mom.”

Smith previously served two terms as Uvalde mayor when he was first elected in 2008. Smith took the opposite approach on the issue and campaigned on bringing the community together and made no express mention of the shooting in any campaign materials.

“All of us wanted the same thing — we want this community to heal,” Smith told reporters after votes were tallied, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

The general sentiment from the community revealed that there is a deep divide in Uvalde between residents who say they want to move past the tragedy and those who are still demanding answers and accountability.

Abortion Continues to Rally Voters Across America

More than a year after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, pro-abortion advocates continued their winning streak in states where abortion was a central campaign issue.

In Virginia, abortion wasn't directly on the ballot but it was an important issue that Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin explicitly advocated against. The Governor supports a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks, with some exceptions, and aggressively campaigned with Republicans to try to win control of both houses of the Virginia legislature.

Democrats rallied and successfully took control of the state House of Delegates while maintaining control of the state Senate. Abortion rights supporters campaigned heavily so that Democrats could then block Youngkin from working to pass abortion bans and repeal gun safety laws.

In Ohio, abortion is now a constitutional right. The Issue 1 ballot measure amends the state constitution guaranteeing every person in Ohio the right “to one’s own reproductive medical treatment, including but not limited to abortion.” It also prevents the state from “burdening, penalizing or prohibiting” those rights — though it specifies that abortion will remain prohibited after the point a doctor judges a fetus would most likely survive birth, with exceptions to protect the woman’s life or health.

The success of the Ohio ballot measure is yet another victory for abortion-rights advocates. Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ballot measures backing abortion rights have won in every election so far, even in conservative states, including Kentucky and Kansas.

In another sign that Kentucky voters are in support of the right to abortion and bodily autonomy, Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, won reelection after facing off against the state's Republican attorney general, Daniel Cameron, who opposes abortion rights and has defended Kentucky’s current strict abortion laws in court.

Beshear's campaign released a powerful political ad that featured a young woman who talked about her experience as a victim of rape by her stepfather at the age 12 and who later miscarried. She highlighted that Kentucky's current abortion law contains no rape or incest exceptions, saying, "Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it's like to stand in my shoes."

In Pennsylvania, Dan McCaffery won an open seat on the state Supreme Court after positioning himself as a defender of abortion rights. Court seats are non-partisan; however, as judges are increasingly more willing to interpret laws through their political views, instead of as non-biased arbiters of the law, partisanship and positions on issues are becoming more common. McCaffery, who is a former Philadelphia judge and prosecutor, campaigned as a defender of abortion rights and other rights that he said Democrats had fought for but were under attack by the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority.